NATIONAL DEFENSE—AN UNMODEST PROPOSAL by Lynne Mutchler
Consider this: First, we need a freeze on nuclear weapons. Second, we must not
allow the U.S. to launch a first strike. Third, until there is a nuclear disarmament, this country must maintain the ability to launch a devastating retaliatory attack in order to deter those who might otherwise be tempted to launch a
first strike against us.
If you agree with the above, you might logically continue and assert that our
country should have certain kinds of weapons rather than others. For example,
rather than a few large submarines, many small submarines would be employed
so that any agressor could be certain that some would survive a first strike and
be capable of retaliation.
This may come as a shock to my pacifist friends, but I agree with the three statements above, although I am still in the process of considering the problem. I do
know that we can not refuse to consider defense priorities. We must defend ourselves, to maintain peace by dealing from strength. Weapons are neither intrinsically bad or good, and I know we need some weapons. Thus, the important question
becomes: which weapons? And the corollary is: how much should we pay for them?
Although I am now convinced that I need to pay more attention to weapons, I am
unwilling to get into the details, without a lot of help. I have just learned
("The Washington Monthly," May 1982, pp 41-44, and July/August 1982, p.4) about
a woman named DINA RASOR, who had directed a Project on Military Procurement for
something called the National Taxpayers Legal Fund. She now works along the same
lines, for herself. The article in the May "Washington Monthly" tells how she
was fired by the Fund for being too effective.(by Jonathan Alter, the article
is titled, "Misfire: How Pentagon Critics Shot Down Their Own Ace.").
Rasor took the tack that the Pentagon should be held accountable for producing
efficient, effective weapons that do what they are supposed to do—weapons that
work. She became a conduit for workers in the defense machine with specific knowledge of cost overruns, design flaws, non-use of a superior design because of
unfair competition. She supplied documentation to the papers on the failure of the
M-l tank, among others. The Washington Monthly" says, "she is considered not only
well informed and intelligent, but a clear talker, which is an especially valued
commodity in the arcane world of military hardware.
Rasor was fired by the board of the NTLF, for questioning:"why build new M-l tanks
when existing M-60's are only half as expensive?f...Why return to C-5 transports
when Boeing 747s are available for a fraction of the cost?" The people who fired
her wanted instead to challenge underlying attitudes of the Pentagon brass.,
I believe we need both—we need to challenge the Pentagon on what weapons are
needed, but we also need to examine the weapons they have chosen, and force them
to do a good job of what they create. My feelings on this issue were so strongly
affected by this article in WM, that I want to quote the last two paragraphs:
"Preventing the destruction of the world will always grip the public imagination more firmly than an analysis of what is wrong with a tank's hydraulic
system. But without denigrating the genuine accomplishments of the nuclear
freeze movement, it is important to recognize that sometimes thinking about
big abstract issues can distract us from thinking about smaller (though
multibillion-dollar) problems for which real solutions are more within reach.
For all of its consciousness-raising promise, the freeze movement runs the
risk of thrusting people into that old mind trap, where war is bad, peace is
good, and the details are to be worked out later. This thinking, while containing a certain logic when applied to nuclear weapons, is disastrous for any
effort to do something constructive about the rest of military...until enough
people decide to play (^Dina Rasor's role} > the liberals, the libertarians,
and everyone else will continue to waste billions of dollars on a military
that benefits no one."
I believe feminists are concerned with the defense of the country, but we sure are
not willing to trust that President Reagan has asked a reasonable amount of money
for it. Clearly we need both guns and butter, but I refuse to pay an inordinate
amount for the guns. We feminists have to impact the Pentagon and the White House
with our priorities. Dina Rasor has made a start—at least we need to make the military executives honest. Thank you Dina Rasor.